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Saturday, 16-Jun-2007 10:47 Email | Share | Bookmark
Saffron Risotto with Chicken and Mushroom

Saffron Risotto (Risotto Giallo alla Milanese)

5 cups chicken broth or water
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
1/2 teaspoon chopped saffron strands (dissolved in 1/2 cup hot broth from above)
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring chicken broth to a slow, steady simmer.

In a large heavy pan over medium heat, melt the butter; add onion and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes or until soft (be careful not to brown the onions).

Add the rice. Using a wooden spoon, stir for 1 minute, making sure all the grains are well coated (toasting the rice in melted butter keeps it from getting mushy). Add the hot chicken broth (1/2 cup at a time), stirring frequently. Wait until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup, reserving about 1/4 cup to add at the end. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

NOTE: Risotto doesn't need constant attention during its 18 minute cooking time. You'll just need to check on the pan every few minutes, give the rice a stir to keep it from sticking, and add more stock.

When the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, add 1/2 the dissolved saffron. Continue to stir and when there is no more liquid in the pot, add the remaining saffron. Proceed with adding the broth

After approximately 18 minutes, when the rice is tender but still firm, add the reserved broth. The rice is done when it is tender, but firm to the bite. Turn off the heat and immediately add 1 tablespoon butter and the parmesan cheese, stirring vigorously to combine with the rice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

NOTE: To test the risotto for proper consistency, spoon a little into a bowl and shake it lightly from side to side. The risotto should spread out very gently of its own accord. If the rice just stands still, it's too dry, so add a little more stock. If a puddle of liquid forms around the rice, you've added too much stock. Spoon some liquid off, or just let the risotto sit for a few more seconds off the heat to absorb the excess stock.

Transfer risotto to warmed serving plates and serve immediately with additional freshly grated parmesan cheese on the side.

Note: If the finished risotto is left to sit and not served immediately, it will continue absorbing fluid and become sticky instead of creamy. You can save this by stirring in a few tablespoons of warm broth right before serving. If it is left to sit too long (15 minutes or more), the rice will lose its firm texture and become undesirably mushy.

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